NYC City Guide
Alright - you asked, I oblige - time for some city guides! I already shared my favorite brunches in DC. This time, I'm wrapping up ALL OF MY FAVES from my first love, New York city.
A brief history - I began traveling to NYC at the ripe old age of 13; at first with a Girl Scout troop, and then more as I began my modeling career. At age 16 I was in NYC a lot and by 17 I had moved out there on my own! I bounced around between the neighborhoods (though this guide will focus on Manhattan, as that is where most people stay when they visit) before spending most of my time in Brooklyn. I left New York about five years ago, moving in with my then-boyfriend, now-husband in the Nation's Capitol. I've made it back to NYC about once a year since, and the city will forever have a huge chunk of my heart.
Having lived there for about seven years, people are always asking for recommendations and advice. I've always had a copy/paste format on my phone, but I've put together this guide with links and photos to help you plan your perfect New York City itinerary!
Let's Start with Food!
WHERE TO EAT:
BRUNCH: Ah, Brunch, my first love. There's something to be said about mixing fruity bubbly and hearty food. For a classy french feel, I love Balthazar, though you do need to get a reservation early. I also love Jack's Wife Freda for an instagrammable spot, or Nickel and Diner for great coffee and food in the heart of the shopping mecca. Lastly, I need to mention this because I literally tell everyone who goes to NYC ever that they need to go to Cafeteria. I basically could live on their mac n cheese egg rolls (with smoked gouda dipping sauce) but also love their main plates like lemon and ricotta pancakes and the millennial avocado benedict. Speaking of millennial geared restos, you can't miss While We Were Young with their pink velvet and marble interior.
DINNER: Spaghetti: Scarpetta is my ultimate favorite spaghetti in the entire world. Z truly thought I was eating with rose colored glasses until he tried it himself and it is literally THE BEST. If you want more hearty traditional Italian, I recommend Giovanni VentiCinque on the Upper East Side. Moving on downtown, Quintessential LES deli, Katz has all of your sandwich dreams! Speaking of quintessential eats you may have seen in the movies, Veselka is an institution of no frills but exceptionally delicious Eastern European eats for all hours of the day. Before Momofuku expanded it's wings, it was a NYers fave place to go, and still is! Now, if you want to venture out to Brooklyn, all of my friends LOVE Peter Luger Steakhouse (which I have unfortunately not been to due to meat).
PIZZA : What is NYC most known for? Crispy, thin crust, wonderful, PIZZA. You have to go to Lombardis in Soho, the Original NYC pizza! If you find yourself in Williamsburg, try to get into Roberta's Pizza and if you're basically anywhere and babe-ing on a budget, find yourself a 2 brothers Pizza ($1 slice!)
DRINKS: Whenever I want a totally classic NYer dreamy experience, I recommend The Bowery Hotel for cocktails and celeb sightings. After an early evening cocktail there, I recommended Chloe on Orchard for drinks and Dancing withoout the Clubbing feel. If you prefer something slightly divier, Hotel Chantelle is fun as well. If you're feeling young and fun and dance, Webster Hall is always a good time. Personally, as I've aged, I've enjoyed bar hopping around the Lower East Side. In my youth, when I wanted to dance the night away with some potential celebrities, you could find me club hopping in the Meat Packing; Griffin, Gansevoort, Marquee are all iconic in their ways. If you plan to go that route, do some research before hand; many promoters are always looking to bring girls in for free (it entices men to pay the cover!) and you get bottle service!
WHERE TO STAY:
I love staying at The Standard - numerous restaurants and bars, and a perfect location close to great shops, Chelsea Market, and the picturesque High Line Park. I also really love The Bowery Hotel, mostly for its charming interiors and potential for celeb sighting. Other hotels of note, the Thompson and Nomad; both affordable and in great neighborhoods surrounded by lively bars, restaurants, and boutiques.
WHERE TO SHOP:
Alright guys, time for my favorite part about NYC - the shopping! As a Precursor, this section is a doozy! Let's start with the classic; the quintessential Soho experience. Head down Broadway and there will be no shortage of shops pandering to all of your sartorial delights. Ofcourse, there's TopShop, which always has something great! Mystique Boutique is great for affordable trendy clothes, as well as Necessary Clothing, especially if you're of a younger/fun crowd. Want something classy? A.P.C. is a go-to for a minimalist wardrobe or Anthom for minimalist It Girl vibes. I always always stop in to the SoHo Opening Ceremony shop, chock full of the trendiest street style wears, as does American Two Shot. Of course, there's the usuals as well; Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, Chanel, Altuzara, Gucci... the dreamy brands with the iconic shops.
Now, if you're a vintage vixen, that's a whole other ball game. I'm always inspired when I check out The Vintage Twin, and always find something cool at Second Time Around and What Goes Around Comes Around. Ritual errs more trendy and hipster, and I've heard Brooklyn favorite L Train Vintage has opened some doors in the iconic neighborhood. I also love Green Fingers, a plant shop that carries a small assortment of artfully curated vintage pieces from the best Coach backpacks to an expansive selection of perfectly worn-in tee shirts.
Lastly, if you're looking for an eclectic mix of artisan crafts and a one-stop-shop, check out Canal Street Market; grab some Boba Guys and enjoy the shops that are in there on rotation. Try not to get sucked into buying designer knock offs on Canal Street, but enjoy the culture there is in that part of Chinatown.
GUYS. THAT'S JUST ONE NEIGHBORHOOD. There's Fifth Avenue, though IMHO you only shop there if you are a tourist ticking it off your bucket list or you literally have thousands of dollars to spare. I do think Barney's NY and the across-the-street Bergdorf Goodman are a great experience if you're from out of town; so many wonderful fashion names under one roof. And of course, beaurgeoning Brooklyn's Williamsburg has some great artisan shops mixed with rising retailers along and nearby Bedford Ave.
WHAT TO DO:
It's true what they say; there is always something to do in the City that Never Sleeps! Some of my favorites include taking a walk along the High Line Park, people watching in Union Square, especially around the holidays when they have the most wonderful market. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, go shopping in Soho (as referenced above), go see a Broadway Show, wander around the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art), The MoMA, and reminisce about every childhood movie with the impressive Natural History Museum. The view from the Top of The Rock is gorgeous, but it's also great to have a drink at the Refinery Rooftop and take in the VIEW of the Empire State Building and the rest of the iconic sights.
Lastly, I recommend you visit One World Trade Center and it's memorial. Be respectful, don't snap smiling selfies and take goofy photos, and remember what happened on September 11th, 2001. It's a moving experience to visit it.
So there you have it - my toned down and only the BEST guide to New York City! If you have any questions or want a more tailored itinerary, let me know! I love sharing my original "home" with others and ensuring they have a wonderful time there!
Have you been to NYC? What was YOUR favorite part!